................................................................................. By Fr Umberto Pasquale
This is the title Jesus gave to Alexandrina on the first Saturday of December 1944: “You're queen of the sinners; you’re queen of the world, chosen by Jesus and by Mary!” (8-12-1944).
"When you're in Heaven, you shall be given the title of 'Little Shepherd of Jesus' " - as He promised on 10 November that year.
This affirmation of the Lord leads me to submit the details of a fact which is briefly narrated in the biography of the Servant of God (Alexandrina, pages 198-199).
It took place in the parish of Penedono, in the Diocese of Lamego (about 100 km from Balasar). In the biography I didn’t mention people's names, because the event was recent.
The parish priest, for several years, had frequently preached in vain, striving to draw his people to a more Christian life. The parish, numbering several thousand souls, only managed to draw a few dozen people to church during the Easter season.
In 1945 I was invited to preach for a few days at the end of Lent.
Because it would be hard work, and because of the situation in this parish, I decided not to respond to the invitation.
I spoke about it to Alexandrina.
'Go – she told me - go, I will go with Your Reverence!’
I accepted and arrived at Penedono. I said to the priest that Alexandrina was praying and suffering for our intentions.
The church was filling up more and more every day. But my invitation to confession was not accepted by anyone. Not even after my sermon at the cemetery, where I spoke of death, the deceased loved ones and their appeal from the afterlife, where there is a complete view of eternal truths.
The pastor was overwhelmed ... and decided to leave the parish.
It was then, at his house, I told him one night, strongly:
- Do you know why your parishioners do not convert? ... It is because of your lack of faith!
The next day, the Wednesday of Passion week, as I was very tired and having already lost my voice, the pastor did not want me to preach any more.
I opposed this ... and reaching the pulpit, called out to Alexandrina (she was still alive at this time). My voice came back. At one point in the sermon, I ordered the sexton to remove the cloth that covered the statue of Our Lady of Fatima and told him to light the altar candles.
Then I invited all the children to gather around Our Lady, and loudly ask for the conversion of the older people who filled the church.
I noticed that many people began to cry.
The next morning, before Mass, I was in the confessional, and the faithful were already in the church and waiting. Soon, the little hand of a child opened the curtain of the confessional, while with the other hand he held a woman's shawl.
- Father, confess my mother ... She did not want to, but I asked her to confess and become a friend of Jesus.
After the procession with the image of Jesus Crucified (it was Good Friday) and after the last sermon, the 'black sheep' of the parish appeared in the sacristy with more men and said to me:
- It's also the time of grace for me ... For further humiliation, I will confess to the pastor (who was present). I apologize for the scandal that I have given. At three o'clock in the afternoon, in commemoration of Jesus' death, I will be here.
Saying this, he began to cry like a child.
This fact made such an impression that a stubborn group of men wanted to confess that afternoon.
The next day, at four thirty in the morning, I boarded the bus to return to Mogofores (the village where Fr Umberto lived). In the dark of the night, a man came racing after the bus loudly calling for me, "Father Umberto! Father Umberto!"
I went down and found myself in the arms of the "black sheep":
- I came to thank Your Reverence the peace and joy you have brought to my soul!
I don't remember what I said ... because the bus was to leave and I had to board it hastily.
But the merit of these miracles of grace was from Alexandrina, as is stated in this letter from the pastor of Penedono addressed to me:
"After complete recovery from fatigue due to the work of the past two weeks, I feel obliged to give thanks for the shower of graces that with such abundance, her prayers and her sacrifices have made to rain down in this parish, through the words of Fr Umberto. Souls who were many years away from the Sacraments flocked in large numbers to wash in the waters of Penance and to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. It was a real triumph of divine mercy! Unable to contain my joy, I thank you for what you have done for these poor souls ..."
Picture: Castle of Penedono.
Picture: Castle of Penedono.